Not the End of the World

By LAUREN GOLDSTEIN

Originally Published January 2013

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Click the picture for NASA’s coverage of the end of the world.

December 21, 2012. It was a date that struck fear in the minds of some and prompted laughter from others. Some interpretations of the Mayan calendar speculated that on this day, the world would come to an end, while non-believers thought that the idea of a sudden apocalypse was nothing short of ridiculous.

Here lies the basis of this prophecy: The Mayan Long Count Calendar counts 144,000-day-long blocks of time, called b’ak’tuns. The idea was that at the end of the thirteenth b’ak’tun, the end of the Great Cycle would be reached, and it would begin again. The end of this cycle coincided with December 21, 2012, spawning worldwide panic about the possibility of a doomsday event.

Even pop culture had capitalized on the prospect of a mass extinction, furthering the hype that the end may be near. The 2009 film 2012 shows volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis of enormous proportions as examples of calamitous geologic events that would occur as the Earth self-destructed.

NASA’s prediction? Nothing was going to happen; life was going to go on. The government agency’s website stated, “Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then–just as your calendar begins again on January 1–another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.”

Jericho High School students were not buying into the idea that Earth had an expiration date. Junior Brandon Levine was certain that this prophecy was incorrect. “If NASA.org has a whole page explaining why the world isn’t going to end, I trust it,” he said.

James Song doubted the science behind this prediction. “I don’t think the world was going to end because I overheard a science teacher telling another teacher that the Mayan calendar was actually off by 400 years or something,” the freshman said. “Ever since then, it all sounded pretty much like a well-designed hoax to me.”

Senior Drew Longo was uncertain if the world was coming to an end. Though, if it did, he said, “… I would have been able to sip bottles of Pellegrino with John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and Squanto [in heaven].”

JHS sophomore JT Zhao thinks that the end will come eventually, but he did not think that the end was fast approaching.  “It’ll end someday, but what people need to care about is what’s here right now,” he said. “I try to live each day like my last, because one never knows what will happen.”

 

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